Human Rights and Sexual Abuse Attorneys

If you are a survivor of sexual abuse and want to pursue legal action, do not hesitate to contact Wallace Miller. The physical injuries you sustained during the incident and the resulting long-term effects might entitle you to financial compensation.

Sexual abuse can have lifelong consequences for the abused. Whether you are an adult or child when it happens, you can suffer serious psychological damage that continues throughout your lifetime. Many people develop mental illness and cannot have meaningful relationships with others. The impact of sexual abuse can significantly reduce a person’s quality of life.

Childhood sexual abuse is often more damaging than the sexual abuse of an adult. Children might not understand what happened or how to handle the lingering effects of the abuse. Some don’t tell anyone about what happened to them because they fear no one will believe them or their abuser will retaliate against them. Sometimes, sex abuse survivors live with the guilt and shame for years or decades before finally speaking out about what happened.

At Wallace Miller, we understand your challenges after suffering sexual abuse. The journey to hold your abuser liable for their misconduct can be long and overwhelming. You don’t have to face your abuser alone. Our human rights and sexual abuse attorneys will remain by your side during every step. We will be your advocate and protect your rights. You can depend on us to fight hard for the justice you deserve.

Call Wallace Miller at (312) 261-6193 today for your free consultation.

Sexual abuse comes in multiple forms. It doesn’t only involve physical acts. It’s any type of unwanted sexual activity by a perpetrator who uses force or threats against someone who doesn’t or can’t consent.

The most common types of sexual abuse include:

  • Molestation
  • Fondling
  • Incest
  • Sexual communications by text, phone, and other methods
  • Sharing pornographic videos or images
  • Forcing oral sex
  • Taking sexually explicit photos
  • Rape
  • Sodomy

Childhood sexual abuse can also occur. It happens when a person engages in sexual activity with a minor. Any sexual act can be sexual abuse since children can’t give consent. Common forms of childhood sexual abuse include:

  • Intercourse
  • Exposing oneself to a child
  • Engaging in sexually explicit conversations
  • Owning, producing, or sharing child pornography
  • Fondling
  • Forcing a minor to masturbate or masturbating in front of them
  • Forcing a child to participate in oral, anal, or vaginal sex

Unfortunately, sexual abusers are often people children trust. They can be a camp counselor, teacher, or babysitter. It’s critical to know the warning signs of sexual abuse so you can take immediate legal action and prevent your child from suffering additional harm.

Common Types of Sexual Abuse

Harmful Effects of Sexual Abuse

Long-term consequences are common following sexual abuse, whether it happens to an adult or a child. Coping with this traumatic incident and moving forward is challenging. Many survivors find it difficult to deal with the shame and open up to others about what happened. Sexual abuse survivors often suffer in silence for prolonged periods and don’t discuss the incident with anyone until significant time passes.

It’s common for sexual abuse survivors to experience long-term effects of sexual abuse, such as:

Depression

Mental illness is one of the most common problems following sexual abuse. Some survivors develop depression after the incident because they internalize their feelings. They feel completely alone in the trauma and never discuss it with anyone.

The intense emotional burden can cause a person to withdraw from friends and family, overeat, have suicidal thoughts, and experience sleep disturbances or insomnia.

Sexual dysfunction

Sexual abuse survivors typically have an unhealthy relationship with sex. Whether the abuse happens when they were a child or adult, they might fear the physical act or have no interest. They might find it difficult to maintain relationships with intimate partners.

Guilt and shame

Survivors will often blame themselves when someone abuses them. It’s especially common if the abuser is someone they trust or love, such as a relative or friend. Viewing their abuser in a negative light is a challenge, so they think about what they might have done to cause what happened.

Shame and guilt following sexual abuse can lead to self-destructive acts, such as inflicting physical harm on oneself or seeking out dangerous situations.

Anxiety and stress

Phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and panic attacks commonly occur after sexual abuse. Children are especially susceptible to these forms of mental illness and can experience long-term symptoms, even when they enter adulthood.

Dissociation

Some abuse survivors cope with their situation by dissociating from what’s happening. This is common in those who experience abuse regularly or over many years.

Dissociation causes symptoms such as confusion, flashbacks, emotional numbness, and nightmares. It’s not unusual for survivors to repress their memories and encounter a trigger later in life that brings everything back to the forefront of their minds.

Interpersonal relationship problems

Some people can’t start or maintain relationships with other people. The fear of intimacy is too much to handle. Additionally, the ability to trust anyone is nonexistent. Setting healthy boundaries might also be an issue in relationships with sexual partners, significant others, family, and close friends.

Childhood and adult sexual abuse survivors often suffer in silence. Many fear others will judge them for what they went through and maybe even blame them for becoming the victim of abuse in the first place. Others don’t come forward with their stories because they worry no one will believe them. It could take decades before survivors are ready to speak out and seek legal action against their abusers.

Who You Can Hold Liable for Sexual Abuse

Sometimes, sexual predators are trusted and productive members of society. Children don’t always suffer sexual abuse by scary individuals hiding in alleys. It’s often someone they see regularly and feel safe being around. The same is true for adult survivors of sexual abuse. The perpetrator could be a healthcare professional, long-time friend, or family member.

The most common individuals and organizations that adults and children hold liable for sexual abuse include:

  • Foster parent
  • Sports coaches and organizations
  • Relative
  • Camp counselor
  • Daycare centers
  • Priests or other members of the church
  • Religious organizations
  • School districts and teachers
  • Medical providers
  • Friends
  • Youth organizations
  • Jails and juvenile detention centers
  • Mental health professionals and facilities
  • Fitness instructors
  • Employers and colleagues
  • Members of law enforcement
  • Babysitters and nannies

If someone sexually abused you or your child, reach out to Wallace Miller immediately to determine whether you can file a lawsuit. One of our human rights and sexual abuse attorneys will review the circumstances of the incident and advise you about the available options for seeking legal action.

Compensation Available for Sexual Abuse

It’s vital to understand the differences between a criminal case and a civil lawsuit. The state brings criminal cases against defendants. A judge or jury determines if the defendant is guilty or not guilty and imposes a criminal sentence, such as imprisonment, fines, and restitution. Restitution is a form of compensation the defendant pays the victim for the criminal act they committed.

In a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff can recover compensation for an injury, medical treatment, and emotional pain and suffering. The defendant doesn’t face criminal charges. Instead, they can suffer monetary penalties.

The compensation you receive in a lawsuit against the abuser might cover losses you’ve suffered, such as:

  • Medical bills and other expenses for treatment of an injury sustained during the abuse
  • Lost wages for the time spent away from work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Out-of-pocket costs

Punitive or exemplary damages might also be recoverable. This type of financial award punishes the defendant for their misconduct. Many states allow plaintiffs to seek this form of compensation in a lawsuit. However, some don’t. You should let Wallace Miller review the laws where you live to determine whether this type of award is available where you live.

Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse

Every state’s statute of limitations imposes a timeframe for filing lawsuits in sexual abuse cases. You must follow this timeframe to file a civil lawsuit against your abuser. Once the timeframe passes, you could lose your right to pursue legal action against them for compensation.

Many sexual abuse survivors aren’t ready to take legal action against their abuser immediately. Some spend years or decades agonizing over whether to speak up about the incident and bring the abuser to justice. By then, it could be too late to pursue a civil lawsuit or press criminal charges because the statute of limitations period has already passed.

Multiple states have enacted a “lookback window” to allow survivors to file lawsuits despite the expired statutory deadline. Others extended the statute of limitations period for certain sex crimes.

The states with a lookback window include:

  • California
  • Vermont
  • Arkansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Colorado
  • New York (expires in late 2023)

Some states chose to eliminate the statute of limitations altogether for some or all felony sexual offenses. This allows survivors to press criminal charges at any time after the incident. These states include:

  • Maryland
  • West Virginia
  • Kentucky
  • South Carolina
  • Wyoming
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia

Lookback Laws and Extended Statutes of Limitation for Childhood Sexual Abuse

The human rights and sexual abuse attorneys of Wallace Miller are ready to help you hold your abuser accountable and pursue the compensation you deserve. Call us at (312) 261-6193 for your free consultation today.

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At Wallace Miller, we understand the devastation sexual abuse creates. No matter how old you are when it occurs, it can have far-reaching consequences. You can face a challenging journey to heal and move forward with your life. With us by your side, you won’t have to go through this alone.